Color me as surprised as anyone that the Cardinals made the playoffs. Although I’ve been fairly vocal about my frustrations with the organization – namely Tony LaRussa’s swelling sphere of influence – credit is undeniably deserved here. It’s October… and baseball is still being played in Saint Louis.
Here are some links to wet your appetite for game one:
- At Birdland, Derrick Goold uses Cool Standings to sets this year’s come from behind charge to the postseason in historical perspective. The 2011 Cardinals had the 4th lowest chance of making the playoffs at any point in September (1.4% on 9/5) and the 3rd lowest chance in the last week of the season (6.8%). Even more impressive, the 2011 Rays ranked 1st in each of these categories; they had a 0.5% chance of making the playoffs on 9/3 and 3.7% chance with one week left.
- At Beyond the Boxscore, J-Doug posted a graph that tracked the chances of both the Cardinals and Rays making the playoffs throughout September. He says: “On September 4th, the odds for either joint-outcome occurring were a dismal 1 in 100,000. Two days later, the odds of both Tampa Bay and St. Louis playing October were a mind-boggling 1 in 250,000.”
- In Beyond the Boxscore’s NLDS Phils-Cards preview, there’s a pretty graph comparing the teams in terms of run-scoring and run-prevention. As you might guess, the Phillies dominate the Cardinals in terms of run prevention. The Cardinals are 10% below league average in RA/G while the Phillies are an astounding 17% better than league average. The Cardinals, however, lead the Phillies in every offensive category (RS/G, wOBA, OBP, SLG, BABIP, LD%, and HR/FB%). While the old mantra calls for good pitching to prevail over good hitting, the playoffs are infamously random… especially when it comes to a five game series.
- Head over to Fungoes for insights from Bill Baer, writer at the great Phillies blog, Crashburn Alley.
- Dave Cameron calls the Cardinals, “the biggest underdogs of round one,” at FanGraphs Staff Playoff Predictions. Of course, I think that says more about the 102-win Phillies than the suddenly formidable Cardinals. Of the 22 voters, 21 picked the Phillies to win. Cameron estimated that the Cardinals actually have a 30-35% chance of winning the series.
A couple of more notes before I park myself in front of a TV:
- I was surprised by the Cardinals’ decision to leave Kyle McClellan off of the playoff roster. According to Mozeliak cited “deadarm” as the issue. He clearly hit a wall in September (9.37/5.63 FIP/xFIP) and struggled ever since resuming his bullpen role (5.97/4.59 FIP/xFIP overall in relief). If the decision was between McClellan and Boggs, they made the correct one (3.44/3.66 FIP/xFIP overall).
- Also, kudos to the team for choosing Adron Chambers over Corey Patterson. Despite only having 8 total plate appearances, Chambers has always had a wOBA over .350 in minors and has walked over 10% of the time in three years split between double-A and triple-A. That suggests that he’s a better option than Corey Patterson’s career .302 wOBA. If the team was really looking for speed, however, I wish they would have chosen Tyler Greene who’s only been caught stealing in 10 of 78 triple-A attempts. Oh yeah… and he lead this year’s Cardinals in stolen bases (11) despite only amassing 121 plate appearances. He was not thrown out once this year and I think he could have handled outfield duty just fine.
Gotta run. Maybe I’ll post some game recaps with help from FanGraphs WPA charts. Go Cards!